James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Child Composer's 'Cinderella' Opera Opens to a Warm Reception
Friday, January 06, 2017 - 01:08 PM
Shortly before the world rang in the new year, 11-year-old composer, violinist and pianist Alma Deutscher premiered a new full length opera, Cinderella, at Vienna’s Baumgarten Casino. Under the patronage of famed conductor Zubin Mehta, this was the first complete version of Cinderella; a shorter version premiered in 2015.
Watch Alma Deutscher's 2015 Google Zeitgeist talk, where she speaks about her opera, music and inspiration:
Deutscher's Cinderella deviates from the fairy tale that many audiences may be familiar with. This interpretation of the story takes place in an opera house, headed by the evil stepmother. Cinderella is a composer who sets a mysterious poem to music and later performs it at a ball. In the Zeitgeist talk featured above, she explains that she chose this tale not only because Cinderella is one of her favorite stories, but because she likes “stories in which the beautiful girls triumph in the end, despite being girls, and are taken seriously ... and because I’m a little girl and I want my music to be taken seriously.”
The German-language opera has so far received glowing reviews, and the Telegraph reports that at the end of the performance the audience awarded the young composer with a standing ovation. At two-and-a-half hours long with a score of 237 pages, this opera is a considerable work by any measure, made all the more impressive by the age of the British composer. Deutscher even assumed performance duties at the premiere, playing piano during the premier and joining the actors on stage in order to play violin for a certain scene.
Much of Deustscher's early exposure can also be attributed to the success of her Youtube channel, which is nearing 4 million views. There, one will also learn that while Cinderella is her first full-length opera, it is not her first experience with the genre. That distinction belongs to The Sweeper of Dreams, a short opera that premiered in Israel in 2013. She has also written several pieces of chamber music, in addition to a violin concerto.